God Was Here: Reclaiming His Own

sunrise1214172

Now burn, new born to the world,
Doubled-naturéd name,
The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark
as he came;
Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not
a lightning of fire hard-hurled.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins, from “The Wreck of the Deutschland.”
sunrise10172

 

God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy.  This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey.  The God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us.

The challenge is to let God be who he wants to be.  A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain.  Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost.  Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone.

Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let him-whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend-be our companion.
— Henri Nouwen from Gracias: A Latin American Journal

 

lookingnorth3

 

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I am self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking forward at the road ahead, listening to the companion who has always walked beside me.

We were joined by this living breathing walking God as He feeds us from His word. I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.

He is the living water so I no longer thirst.

He is the light so I am never left in darkness.

He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.

He clothes me with righteousness so I am never naked.

He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.

He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

So when I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to recognize him, listen, invite Him in to stay, share whatever I have with Him.    When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself, the Companion we were blessed with Christmas morning.

centralroadoct6

 

 

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God’s heaven, a star’s light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God’s Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
~Appalachian Carol

 

sunrise1214171

To Wander Slowly

darkhedgesantique
photo by Emily Gibson (Dark Hedges, Ireland)
13879177_1446182428744399_766280154661466636_n
photo by Joel DeWaard (Whatcom County, Washington)

 

For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!
~Mary Oliver from “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” from Felicity

 

beechtrail
photo by Emily Gibson (Mt. Stewart Gardens, Ireland)
newhampshirefall1
photo by Ben Gibson (New Hampshire)

God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.
~Meister Eckhart

rhodiecontrast
photo by Emily Gibson (Ireland)
lochlomond5
photo by Emily Gibson (Scotland)

Sometimes going for a walk is too much like a sprint, as far and as fast as possible.
Sometimes it is a spontaneous trek into the unknown, just to prove it can be done.
Sometimes it is a climb into the dark, with precipices and crumbling ledges under our feet.
Sometimes it is simply a journey of curiosity to see what may be around the corner.

No matter why or where or how far we wander,
or how slowly,
the path home shines just bright enough
to show us the way back to His glory
when we are ready.
He is there, waiting.
He keeps the light on for us.

pathwaylight2
photo by Emily Gibson (Vancouver Island)

Between Midnight and Dawn: A Different Way

evening33163

darkhedgesantique

frontyardviolet

 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24 — The Road to Emmaus

 

 

A hidden path that starts at a dead end,
Old ways, renewed by walking with a friend,
And crossing places taken hand in hand,

The passages where nothing need be said,
With bruised and scented sweetness underfoot
And unexpected birdsong overhead,

The sleeping life beneath a dark-mouthed burrow,
The rooted secrets rustling in a hedgerow,
The land’s long memory in ridge and furrow,

A track once beaten and now overgrown
With complex textures, every kind of green,
Land- and cloud-scape melting into one,

The rich meandering of streams at play,
A setting out to find oneself astray,
And coming home at dusk a different way.

~Malcolm Guite “Prayer/Walk”

dilly8

evening3316

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I can be self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking at the road ahead, enjoying the journey.

Emmaus helps me remember how He feeds me from His word, so I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.
He is the living water so I no longer thirst.
He is the light so I am never left in darkness.
He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.
He clothes me with righteousness so I am never naked.
He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.
He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

When I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to take a different way than I originally planned: to listen, to invite Him in to stay, to share whatever I have with Him. When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.

He is here, so close, so accessible, so much a part of humanity — as we walk, as we eat, as we drink, as we express gratitude — I feel His Spirit, recognizing He offered Himself as the sacrifice made on my behalf.

No other God would. No other God has. No other God is here, dwelling within us.

willowsun

frontyardviolet2

plumbuds116

dawn3416

During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Let Your Heart Go Forth

sunset102215

sunset81115

westsky

sunset8101516

The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day,
befits that repose of the soul
when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion.
The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder,
and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe.
If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader,
if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide,
but if not,
the Lord is in the town too,
and will meet with you in your chamber or in the crowded street.
Let your heart go forth to meet Him.

~Charles Spurgeon from his Morning and Evening Devotionals

 

Many of the young adults I see in my practice struggle to sleep at night. Their minds are racing, they can’t stop worrying, their bodies are tight with tension.
Their hope is I might prescribe a pill since they’ve tried marijuana and several shots of vodka, and that isn’t helping.

I would like to prescribe an hour with God at sunset but that is not permissible at a public institution.

Instead, I’m allowed to speak of emotional support animals, or yoga, or an evening stroll, or “meditation” or even a labyrinth walk, but never letting one’s heart go forth to meet God.

Spurgeon, out of his own anxiety and depression, knows the healing of a walk with God at sunset.
It is throwing the cares of the heart out to Him and knowing He will catch and hold them tight.

octobermoon

sunset910152

sunset810158

sunset811153

Gone Out

photo by Emily Gibson
photo by Emily Gibson

God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.
~Meister Eckhart

And He awaits for our return.
He keeps the light on,
so we can find our way back,
when we are weary, or fearful or hungry
or simply longing
for reunion.

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

sunset719151

morning72015

morning720152

Working Life Into Grace

 skeldalehouse2
mooraskrigg2
moors
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world~ Hamlet
 
Take a plane to London.
From King’s Cross take the direct train to York.
Rent a car and drive across the vale to Ripon,
then into the dales toward the valley of the Nidd,
a narrow road with high stone walls on each side,
and soon you’ll be on the moors.  There’s a pub,
The Drovers, where it’s warm inside, a tiny room,
You can stand at the counter and drink a pint of Old Peculiar.
For a moment everything will be all right.  You’re back
at a beginning.  Soon you’ll walk into Yorkshire Country,
into dells, farms, into blackberry and cloud country.
You’ll walk for hours.  You’ll walk the freshness
back into your life.  This is true.  You can do this.
Even now, sitting at your desk, worrying, troubled,
you can gaze across Middlesmoor to Ramsgill,
the copses, the abbeys of slanting light, the fells,
you can look down on that figure walking toward Scar House,
cheeks flushed, curfews rising in front of him, walking,
making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace.
~Joseph Stroud “Directions”
mooraskrigg
finnissouterrain5
finnissouterrain4

At a Crossroads

cornfieldcrisscross

When a man thinks happily, he finds no foot-track in the field he traverses.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson from “Quotation and Originality”

irishroad

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back…
~Robert Frost from “The Road Not Taken”
eveninglane
Two lonely cross-roads that themselves cross each other I have walked several times this winter without meeting or overtaking so much as a single person on foot or on runners. The practically unbroken condition of both for several days after a snow or a blow proves that neither is much travelled. Judge then how surprised I was the other evening as I came down one to see a man, who to my own unfamiliar eyes and in the dusk looked for all the world like myself, coming down the other, his approach to the point where our paths must intersect being so timed that unless one of us pulled up we must inevitably collide. I felt as if I was going to meet my own image in a slanting mirror. Or say I felt as we slowly converged on the same point with the same noiseless yet laborious stride as if we were two images about to float together with the uncrossing of someone’s eyes. I verily expected to take up or absorb this other self and feel the stronger by the addition for the three-mile journey home. But I didn’t go forward to the touch. I stood still in wonderment and let him pass by; and that, too, with the fatal omission of not trying to find out by a comparison of lives and immediate and remote interests what could have brought us by crossing paths to the same point in a wilderness at the same moment of nightfall. Some purpose I doubt not, if we could but have made out. I like a coincidence almost as well as an incongruity.
~Robert Frost from “Selected Letters”
darkhedgesboost
rhodietrunks